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Legislator behind failed CCAP proposal focuses on expunction

By: Eric Heisig//November 13, 2013//

Legislator behind failed CCAP proposal focuses on expunction

By: Eric Heisig//November 13, 2013//

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A Milwaukee state representative who earlier this year tried to advance a bill that would create a bifurcated online court records system now plans to focus on expunction instead.

Democrat Evan Goyke said he and Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, plan to introduce legislation in the next few weeks that would allow certain individuals to petition a judge to expunge a criminal conviction after the individual completes his or her sentence.

If approved, the legislation would mean judges would not decide at the time of sentencing whether the record of an individual – who has to be 25 years old or younger and have committed a misdemeanor or certain felonies – can be expunged. Instead, the petition could be filed after the defendant can prove he or she has improved their life, Goyke said.

“The hardest moment in the criminal justice system for the judge,” Goyke said, “is to view the defendant and … what they’ve done. They are really struck by the facts of the crime.”

The bill will replace Goyke’s failed proposal to limit public access to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access website – commonly referred to as CCAP, or Consolidated Court Automation Programs – and create a separate database for certain professionals. That proposal stalled – in large part because Goyke abandoned it – after a number of organizations ranging from landlords to journalists came out against it. Director of State Courts John Voelker had said it would cost more than $500,000 to set up and $125,000 per year to maintain.

But Goyke has said his goal remains the same: to ensure those who make one mistake don’t have it held over them for the rest of their lives. The proposed change would not force judges to grant more expunction requests, but merely delay the decision, he said.

“We just want them to have an equal opportunity for expunction,” Goyke said. “There are no guarantees it’s granted more often.”

The idea has been discussed several times in the Legislature and in front of the state Supreme Court, though little has changed since a law was passed in 2009 that changed the age limit from 21 to 25.

It’s an issue that many, including Voelker and others, have said needs to be discussed.

Jonathan LaVoy, a Brookfield attorney with Kim & LaVoy SC, said he sees merit in Goyke’s plan because it will give judges more time to see if a person reforms after conviction.

“It’s hard to predict what a person will be like in a year or two, [but] that’s what the law says and that’s where it’s problematic,” LaVoy said.

— Follow Eric on Twitter


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